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National Fire Protection Association: NFPA 921 & Negative Corpus

Today’s video is about something called “Negative Corpus”

Negative Corpus, what is that? 

Well if we translated it literally, it means no body. And that’s because a Negative Corpus Theory being used by your insurance company would mean that an element of their case is not based upon the evidence that they identified, but the evidence they couldn’t find. 

Now think about it this way, an insurance cause and origin investigator examines a fire scene, obviously, there was a severe fire, there was tremendous damage that spread all over a bedroom into a roof line.

When the cause and origin investigator gets to the location, they obviously have identified the fire but can’t find the source of the fire.

So, they begin eliminating things:

  • Well, was there lightning? No, there was no lightning.
  • They test for accelerants. There were no accelerants, it was a bedroom.
  • Well, what if there was a candle? Well, okay, but we never found the candle.

Does that mean the insurance company can say, based upon Negative Corpus, they couldn’t find the candle that they can blame the individual for deliberately setting the fire because they’re now presuming they cause the fire?

Well that’s what Negative Corpus was all about.

The National Fire Protection Association, which essentially is an organization that every fire inspector participates in, reads their materials and follows their books like the Bible. Negative Corpus as of 2014 is no longer permissible.

Now that may not seem like a big deal, but prior to 2011, fire cause and origin experts from insurance companies were routinely using NFPA 921. That’s the one that allowed Negative Corpus prior to 2011.

They were using Negative Corpus theories. But then after that when the NFPA realized that there were a whole lot of people with denied insurance claims and a whole lot of people going to jail, that that is no longer consistent with the scientific method.

NFPA 921

Here’s the most important point: the NFPA says, “You cannot use Negative Corpus for the ignition source”. Meaning if you can’t find an ignition source, you cannot then presume that if we didn’t find an accidental cause, it was deliberate.

You can’t do that anymore. You cannot use a Negative Corpus Theory to determine the first fuel. What was it that caught on fire first? Because that’s relevant in cause and origin.

It most definitely tells you that you cannot rely on Negative Corpus to understand the sequence of the burn.

These are issues that fire investigators had used for so long that there are still cause and origin experts being relied upon by insurance companies who use Negative Corpus as a theory even as of today. 

If you are involved in a fire claim with an insurance company and the cause and origin expert is using theories that don’t seem right to you, I would encourage you to go to our website or give us a call. I look forward to hearing from you.